Retailers, consumers and prices
“RILA and NRF have ended discussions aimed at merging the two organizations. NRF and RILA will devote all resources to continuing the work they are each doing to address the serious issues that America’s consumers and retailers are facing in today’s economic environment,” the two boards of directors said in a joint statement.
At first it seemed so good — like a merger made in (retail trade group) heaven. And they spoke so fondly of one another, too.
Check out leprechauns and the rest of us spending less green this year. According to the National Retail Federation‘s St. Patrick’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, people celebrating the March 17 holiday plan to spend an average of $32.80, down from an average of $35.04 in 2008. Still, that spending on decorations, food, drinks and clothing is expected to total $3.29 billion.
Who will spend the most? According to the report, the 25-34 year-old crowd is expected to spend an average $39.42 per person. Those 18-24 years of age are cutting back by nearly 15 percent, expecting to spend $36.05 each this year, down from $42.20 last year.
“Increased concern about the economy among young adults has forced many of them to pull back on discretionary spending,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin.
At the National Retail Federation’s annual convention earlier this month, retail executives and analysts said they were worried there would be no big event to get consumers back into the stores and get them shopping until the back-to-school season.
Still recovering from the holiday spending and watching jobs evaporate by the day, it appears consumers don’t intend to jump back into shopping for Valentine’s Day, the first main holiday since Christmas.
What’s one way to get reluctant shoppers back into the stores? Give them a sales tax holiday — or two or three.
That’s what the National Retail Federation is urging the government to consider as part of the economic stimulus plan being debated in Washington.
Check out the National Retail Federation’s sales outlook.
Even the retail industry’s trade group is expecting sales to fall 0.5 this year. The NRF, known for its optimistic sales forecasts, is expecting the first decline since it began tracking sales in 1995.
Oh, and things could even get worse.
If the government does not quickly pass an economic stimulus package, “then all bets are off,” NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells told Reuters.
With the U.S. in the throws of a recession, preliminary figures showed that retail sales rose 1.4 percent in 2008, well below the 3.5 percent increase the NRF originally forecast.
The year culminated with the worst holiday season in four decades or more, according to some analysts.
Retailer bankruptcies, job cuts and store closings have continued into 2009, and the NRF forecast is the latest sign that things are not expected to get better any time soon.
Also in the basket:
Hershey profit beats estimates, sticks by 2009 view
UK retailers predict worst February on record – CBI
Hartmarx seeks to stay whole (WWD, subscription required)